Riverdale Mills was founded in 1980, when manufacturing in the U.S. had yet to recover from two recessions, and many doubted the future of the industry. The Knott family believed otherwise. They transformed the lobster fishing industry with the invention of Aquamesh®, a first-of-its-kind, marine wire mesh designed to withstand the harsh ocean environment.

“We exist, have always existed, to help lobstermen lobster better,” said Riverdale Mills CEO Jim Knott.

Last month, The Skipper caught up with the Riverdale Mills CEO about that business, its future and history. Here’s what we chatted about:

The Skipper (TS): What is the most important part of business these days?

Jim Knott (JK): Our family business has a unique history with an intense focus on innovation, a deep-rooted dedication to our employees, and an unwavering determination to deliver superior products and service to every customer. We need to stay abreast and ahead of business developments, industry trends, and, most importantly, our customer’s needs.

TS: You became CEO in 2015. What is the toughest part of being in charge?

JK: Meshing all the moving pieces! Making sure to continually and simultaneously invest in our employees, equipment, R&D, service and global distribution, while last but not least of all, maintaining close relationships with each of our valued and loyal customers.

TS: What business leader do you most admire?

JK: My father, Jim Sr. I was lucky to work with him for over 30 years. It was not always easy, but he was entrepreneurial, dedicated, and innovative. He believed in Riverdale Mills and never shied away from protecting his company and the lobster industry.

TS: What changes do you anticipate moving forward?

JK: The demand for Aquamesh® continues to grow exponentially. It is one of the leading wire mesh fabrics for building lobster and crab pots, and fish pens, and we are selling the tools and accessories needed to assemble the pots and pens. We are committed to growing internationally and staying connected to the fishermen and women who form some of the oldest and greatest fishing villages in the world.

TS: What is your proudest accomplishment?

JK: Riverdale Mills has transitioned from a start-up, with sales primarily limited to the Northeast region of the United States, to an internationally recognized leader in the wire industry. We now manufacture over 3,500 sizes of welded wire mesh for the marine, construction, security, and farming industries. Forty per cent of our products are exported to global customers.

TS: How much does your company’s history of inventing the marine wire mesh to make lobster traps shape who you are today?

JK: We are who we are today because of the support of lobstermen and women. The lobster fishing industry put us on the map, and we are deeply grateful. No matter where we go, or what products we sell, it always comes back to the welded wire mesh lobster trap. The lobstermen expect nothing but the best from Riverdale Mills. Knowing that keeps us focused on manufacturing great products and delivering even greater customer service.